Wednesday, 29 June 2016


Peco's new Overhead Line Equipment under test.

Track laid, masts erected, awaiting ballast. Note the thick cork (floor tiles) that will aid creation of deeply ballasted modern track.
A 4ft long diorama is currently under construction, portraying a stretch of modern mainline, with the primary purpose of trying out Peco's new range of 24KV overhead masts and wires. Look out for a full 'Workbench Test' in Model Rail issue 225 (out at the end of July) As someone who's formative trainspotting years were spent copping blue 81s, 85s, 86s and 87s, I've long dreamed of building a layout with overhead catenary. However, the time involved in scratchbuilding has always put me off and all the decent ready-made stuff was aimed at HO, rather than OO gauge. Dapol's plastic stuff was OK, for cosmetic use, but this Peco range - manufactured by Sommerfeldt - looks far more promising. 

I haven't started fitting the wires yet - they're so delicate I want to get all the scenery finished first. And the mast spacings are a bit contrived, to try out as many of the different wire lengths as possible. But the diorama is going to serve a few other purposes too: as a photographic backdrop for AC electric models and as a trial run for an upcoming layout idea that I've been mulling over.

Right, better paint the sky backdrop, get the scenery done and start 'knitting' those wires together...

Track ballasted, waiting for the glue to dry. I used up a couple of bottle's of Deluxe Materials' Ballast Bond on this 4ft long section. Although the ballast is deep in parts, the glue will be rock-hard in 36hours - diluted PVA would take twice as long!

With the track and ballast airbrushed (reaching around the masts was a pain - in future I think I'll try removing the masts and blend in the ballast later), the landscaping has begun. The dummy signals are Knightwing kits, but they need some protective mesh screens adding.

Tuesday, 21 June 2016


Parkside kit gets the texturising treatment.

Although an excellent kit in many respects, I've enhanced this Parkside Dundas 7mm wagon by scribing the flat plastic sides with a wood grain texture, both inside and out. Combined with peeling paint and rust effects on the metalwork, the wagon has really come to life. Yes, it did take quite a few hours of extra work, but I reckon it has been well worth the effort!

Friday, 17 June 2016


English Electric/Maunsell 0-6-0DE recreated in N gauge. 

I've just added the final touches to an interesting loco conversion project, recreating one of the three diesel-electric shunters built for the Southern Railway by English Electric in the late 1930s. Using a resin kit from Parkwood Models and a Graham Farish Class 08 chassis, it's a fairly simple conversion, although there's the potential for adding much more fine detail to the bodyshell if you wish (and your eyesight is good enough!).

A full demo, and a study of many of the early diesel shunting locomotives, will appear in the next issue of Model Rail magazine (MR224), on sale June 30.

Tuesday, 14 June 2016


Heljan's finest enhanced with powders and paint.

A restrained weathering job was required for this Hymek, with most of the dirt restricted to the bogies and fuel tanks. Eschewing an airbrush altogether, I've used paints, washes and powders applied by hand. 'Chipping' and 'scuffing' on the footsteps, using coloured pencils, bring out the best of the detail relief. Oh, and the cab interiors have also been enhanced and weathered.

Saturday, 11 June 2016


Looking at new ways of bringing models to life.

"You've got to experiment", as Graham Taylor was fond of saying while England manager, while picking the likes of Carlton Palmer and Andy Sinton instead of Chris Waddle and Peter Beardsley. But the idea rings true nonetheless and luckily I've been having slightly more success with some new weathering techniques than Mr Taylor had in international football. Most notably, I've been looking into ways of creating believable tonal variations in an existing livery, without overly affecting the various colour elements or logos, numbers and so on. 

My first attempts have been trialled on some old DMU models, this Hornby blue Class 121 being one of the first. Using grey oil paints and dark washes on the sides and ends, textured acrylic paint on the roof and underframe, there's quite a bit of textural variation as well as tonal. A light misting of general dirt from the airbrush blends it all together. 

Next in line, as far as DMUs are concerned, is a lined green version, with which I'm going to try something different again. But there's also a tasty green Hymek lying around that needs a little attention... 

Tuesday, 7 June 2016


While travelling on a Northern Rail Class 150 this morning, I noticed some interesting new corporate branding that made me chuckle...

Thursday, 2 June 2016


Pair of shiny Class 37s spotted.

Forgot to post these pics last week - a pair of English Electric's finest was spotted while waiting for my train home from Peterborough last Friday evening. 37025 looked wonderful in retro BR colours, while '219 also looked rather fetching. Both fairly gleamed in the sunlight...